A Palestinian Ecosystem

The immense escalation of conflict in the Middle East has drastically changed the outlook for many actors in the region. BuildPalestine, one of our partners in our market building project Impact Together!, has been forced to rethink a large part of their work. How do you bring positive change in circumstances that are beyond challenging? Time for a check-in.

Tom Dinneweth |
olive tree in palestine
Getty Images - Said Khatib

First off, a look at what would have been. At the start of October, BuildPalestine was days away from launching its own impact fund during its annual conference, which focused on Reclaiming Funding. Having launched that fund, they would now presumably be on the lookout for possible investors. They would be screening possible investees, providing them with learning opportunities, teaching them the strings before providing financial support.

Ecosystem Approach

As it stands, sadly, BuildPalestine had to put their impact fund efforts on pause. The same holds true for their yearly fellowship applications. The current climate simply does not make it sensible to pursue these options.

“In the background, we are continuing to think about the impact fund, while also taking the opportunity to focus on supporting our alumni – the fellows we have worked with in past years”. This is Besan Abu-Joudeh, Co-Director of Build Palestine, as she is describing current efforts on the ground. “At the moment, we are mainly providing non-financial support. Not only to social entrepreneurs in our network, but also to other players from the impact space. We see great benefit in broadening our scope in this way, for example by teaching traditional non-profits how to become more sustainable, or by enabling Palestinian changemakers to create new jobs for their communities”.

It is a very specific example of BuildPalestine’s ecosystem driven approach, which aims to involve not only existing graduates from its programs, but to cast out a wide net, inviting changemakers from all backgrounds. In fact, as Abu-Joudeh explains, “we have really doubled down on the idea of creating a strong impact ecosystem in Palestine”.


"We have really doubled down on the idea of creating a strong impact ecosystem in Palestine"
Besan Abu-Joudeh, co-director BuildPalestine


Under The Olive Tree

A part of that strategy is to think beyond what can be achieved on the ground. “One of the questions we were asking ourselves was – how do we mobilize the global community? Or, in other words, how can we unlock the potential of a global community for the Palestinian impact ecosystem?” explains Abu-Joudeh. Like many Palestinians, she is based outside of Palestine, in the United States.

To connect with the diaspora and all other allies, BuildPalestine has launched an online membership community called ‘Under The Olive Tree’. It is a place of hope and of connection, where a growing amount of people share information, engage in online events and coordinate positive change. All projects working to make a positive impact in Palestine are invited to share their work on this platform– the goal is for it to be a decentralized place for collaboration.

Membership fees are low enough to not exclude anyone who might be interested in participating. The idea is that many hands make lighter work, as all revenue goes back towards continuing the work of BuildPalestine in a sustainable way. It allows them to reclaim their own funding – a key message, that hasn’t lost its relevancy. Many Palestinian organisations, have been cut off by some of their funding sources and donors after the escalation of the conflict. Ideological differences in turn led to BuildPalestine cutting ties with one of their funders. This is where crowdfunding comes into play as an alternative source of revenue. Reaching 1.000 ‘Under The Olive Tree’ members would allow BuildPalestine to cover a significant portion of their operational expenses (so what are you waiting for!).

As a final note, Impact Europe is and remains happy to support BuildPalestine moving forward, and to face the challenges ahead together.